ITHACA, N.Y. — Have you found yourself driving around, passing a construction site and wondering what was being built? You’ve come to the right article. Here’s a brief summary of some of the projects currently underway around the area, so you no longer have to wonder.

McDonald’s Rebuild

There have been a few emails asking about this smaller project at 372 Elmira Road in the city’s big box corridor, wondering when the McDonald’s would close, and if and when it would reopen (we tried to get closing date months ago, but McDonald’s never responded). For those who love their Big Macs, don’t worry, Old Ronald McDonald has not bought the farm. McDonald’s corporate is trying to keep up with the changing times by replacing its older fast food restaurants with new facilities and fresh designs. Ithaca is no exception, as the corporate office is replacing the 1970s building with their newest 4,400 SF restaurant design, along with a drive-thru, parking, lighting and landscaping.

Early documentation had suggested a September-December 2017 construction period, so with any luck, the new restaurant will be open by the start of the new year. At the moment, though, it’s a vacant lot. Demolition and site clearing is finishing up, and construction work on the new building will begin shortly.

Ithaka Terraces Condominiums

One of the things that likes to show up in the inbox – “Ithaca should have more condos”. Well, here’s a project to help meet that need. According to a recent press release, Ed Cope’s 12-unit project at 215-221 West Spencer Street will be coming onto the market this fall. The units range from a two-bedroom 1,005 SF (square-foot) unit, to a three-bedroom 1520 SF unit, and will start at $299,000. For that price, buyers get “hardwood and tile flooring, luxury finishes, and a host of energy-saving appliances,” but the big selling point the PR is focusing on is that these units will be net-zero energy – thanks to an off-site solar array in Caroline, heat pumps and super-insulated walls, each unit’s energy use will be entirely covered by renewable sources, and have zero net energy consumption.

A site visit shows a couple buildings receiving the scratch coat for their stucco finishes, while building “D”, the last one to start construction, is being framed, sheathed and roofed. The condos use double-stud walls, meaning there are two sets of wood stud walls used in the exterior frame, parallel to each other but spaced apart by about 5 inches. That space is then filled with R39 densely-packed cellulose insulation. The result has its pros and cons. The cons are that it’s more expensive to build, and it reduces the interior space a little bit. The pro is that it’s very energy efficient, which comes in handy for a project trying to achieve net-zero energy use.

Rodeway Inn Renovation

In the town of Ithaca at 654 Elmira Road, hotelier Pratik Ahir and his construction partners are wrapping up the renovation and expansion of the Rodeway Inn motel. The main building was expanded out to add an interior hallway, more spacious bathrooms in the rear of each unit, and four new hotel rooms were added, bringing the total to 44. Ahir happened to be on-site and was kind enough to show off one of the newly-finished rooms seen above. The north wing and community center building are finishing up, and the whole facility will have a soft re-opening around October 20th. After the Rodeway Inn welcomes guests to its new and improved digs, Ahir will be turning his attentions up the road, to start construction of a new 70-room Sleep Inn hotel.

Cayuga View Senior Living

Heading over to the village of Lansing’s Cinema Drive, work is well underway on their Cayuga View Senior Living project, which will provide 60 market-rate apartment units for individuals aged 55+, as well as 2,680 SF of retail space on the first floor (1,340 SF in each wing of the building). The project is the result of a collaboration between the Thaler family and Rochester’s Cornerstone Group, who is separately working on an affordable housing project for the Lansing Town Center.

Taylor the Builders is almost finished on the concrete block foundation for the 87,359 SF building, which hosts a walkout basement thanks to the slope of the site. Cinder block shafts are being assembled for the elevator core and stairwells. The building’s concrete base is insulated with rigid foam board (the light blue panels) and coated with a black material, possibly a waterproof membrane like Bituthene. Occupancy is slated for Spring 2018.

Poet’s Landing

The second phase of Dryden’s Poet’s Landing affordable housing apartment complex is in the home stretch. Of the six new eight-unit buildings, two looked to be fully finished, one was receiving interior finishes, two more were getting exterior finish work like balconies and trim pieces, and the last building to start construction still has quite a bit of work ahead of it, sheathed in Tyvek housewrap but yet to have its vinyl siding attached. Curbing has been laid, the roads have been paved and sidewalk is being poured. The just-finished buildings are expected to open to their first tenants this fall.

In case anyone’s wondering, the apartment building damaged in the big fire this past summer is being rebuilt. The east wing was destroyed and is being completely replaced from the ground up. It’s been framed and sheathed with plywood, and the roof has been sheathed as well, and is being covered with underlayment, a waterproof material like tar paper or asphalt roofing felt. The west wing was salvageable and is being renovated, though for the moment the exterior vinyl still shows warping and melting in places that were closer to the fire.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at